I was all ready to make Cornish Game Hens for dinner. I'd found, not one, but two recipes I was going to blend into a very yummy dinner. Mariano's was out of the fresh CGH.
I'd found what I thought was going to be a yummy orzo pilaf. It turned out to be extremely bland.
I went to the market with no appetizer or dessert plan. This could have been strike three, but this next anecdote explains why my appetizer turned this into a game winning play.
This is one of the reasons I am so in love with Mariano's--all the other shoppers are so friendly! I was fighting with a produce bag and carrot fronds, when I overheard a lady say to her companion (turns out it was her mom), "If I come to your house, will you teach me how you do your artichokes?" I immediately add my own request to come to her house and learn how to "do her artichokes." She proceeds to tell me exactly how to do it. I'll shall do my best to share her methodology with you.
1. cut the stem and the very top off the artichoke; remove any tough leaves from the stem end
2. soak in lemon water (that's just water with some lemon juice in it), the length of the soaking was unspecified...I let it soak until I had step three ready
3. mix bread crumbs and grated parm together, I added one minced garlic clove and a little EVOO
4. put artichoke into a sauce pan and fill with water to reach about halfway up the artichoke
5. press breadcrumb mixture on and into the leaves at the top (I had some of this mixture leftover and I added it when it was done cooking)
6. bring water up to a boil and reduce to simmer. The nice Italian mother (did I mention she was Italian? She was.) said to simmer it for "every bit of 40 minutes." I think mine simmered for closer to an hour and it probably needed a little longer. You know it's done when you can put a knife all the way into the choke without resistance.
To eat, you just pull the leaves off with the yummy breadcrumb topping and scrape the leaves between you teeth. The eating with your hands made it a little sensual and thus an excellent "date night" appetizer.